My husband and I discussed opening a 529 Savings account for his son. Since the price of education is becoming increasingly ridiculous, we’d like to put something away to help offset the costs. I searched for a 529 savings calculator, and started plugging in some numbers. The totals nearly made me throw my laptop out the window.
In 2032, when my stepson turns 18, the cost of 4 years at a PUBLIC UNIVERSITY is estimated to be about $250,000. If we decide to have a child of our own, multiply that by 2. Say what?! You mean to tell me sending two children to college will cost me half a million dollars?!?
Seriously though…who decides how much college education should cost? I need to find them so we can have a talk, because this is insane. Plus, I know the $250k price tag doesn’t include housing, books, or other expenses, which are more pocket drains. I might be months away from earning a degree, but pursuing a higher education doesn’t seem to be the best financial decision to make anymore.
Let’s say by some miracle that my husband and I can afford to send two kids to college. From my personal experience as a teen, I know how hard-headed 18-year-olds can be. They could want to pursue a major that they love, but may not be lucrative as a future career. What am I going to do? Harass them into taking a STEM major so I…I mean, they, can get a return on that $250k investment? Or support them in their decision, and hope they can use that English or Liberal Arts degree to earn a salary equal to the cost of a year’s college tuition?
And people wonder why the thought of having a child is so scary. This scenario is at least 14 years from now, but it still stresses me out. $250,000 is more than most of us will see in a lifetime, yet this is how much it will cost in the U.S. to further one’s education? What’s even more scary is that student lending will probably still be alive and well, and more students will borrow these ridiculous amounts in pursuit of the American dream.
I guess a possible argument is that we’ll have to account for inflation, but even then, tuition that expensive will undoubtedly make higher education a luxury that only the rich can afford. That pretty much kills the already flimsy proclamation that America is the land of attainable opportunities for everyone. How much more frustrating will it be when those fortunate few insist that you’re doing something wrong if you haven’t saved the six figures to attend college without accumulating any debt?
It saddens me that trying to better yourself comes with such a heavy price tag. With national debt levels and wages where they are now, I can see one of two things happening. People will continue to take out student loans, in hopes that a degree will give them an advantage in the workforce, although it’s a gamble. Or, they will refuse to give in to the highway robbery that is college education and force universities to charge reasonable prices for tuition. I’m a dreamer, so I would love if the second option becomes the reality. Of course, this is all just speculation. As the cliche goes, “only time will tell.”